Welcome to Lille!
One of the most underrated French destinations, Lille, is the capital city of the northern Hauts-de-France region. Famed for its Flemish Baroque architecture, world-class museums, and the enchanting old town. This commercial and cultural hub offers a wide range of fabulous attractions and activities and is conveniently easy to access on the Paris to Lille train.
Whether you wish to admire the Flemish influence on Lille’s elegant architecture, enjoy the famous French cuisine, or walk down the city’s charming pedestrian streets lined with cute cafes and restaurants, the best way to experience Lille is by traveling as a worldwide local. This insider’s guide takes you beyond the most famous attractions and allows you to discover some of the city’s best-kept secrets.
Begin with a Stroll in the Old town
Whether you’ve arrived by train or just landed in Lille Airport, you’ll likely be at a loss for what to do first. Why not begin in the historic district, which boasts some of the finest examples of Baroque architecture from the 17th century. Walk down the cobblestone streets dotted with decorative facades and historical buildings. With its bars and restaurants, the Old Town is also a gathering spot for both locals and tourists who come here to enjoy the city’s vibrant nightlife. Sip on a pint and chat with a local about the popular Lille soccer team.
Established in the 19th century, the Vauban Garden is an ideal place to unwind and enjoy some peace and quiet. From statues of famous Lille natives to a former goat house, which nowadays serves as a playhouse for the little ones, there is plenty to see and do at this lovely park.
Worldwide Local Tip: Since many attractions are close to each other, the easiest way to get around Lille is by walking. As for public transportation, the subway is well-organized, with 60 stations and 45 km of lines. You can also rent a bike through V’Lille, which offers more than 2,000 self-service bicycles.
Lille Attractions, Including the City’s Most Unique Museum
La Piscine Museum is one of those places only known to the locals. Set in a former indoor pool, which was closed in the 80s, this amazing museum houses a variety of textile samples brought from the city’s textile factories.
If you’re visiting Lille with children, Head out to the Esquermes quarter where you will find the Parc Zoologique. Home to around 450 animals, the zoo features seven geographically-organized areas. In the American zone, expect to find tapirs, while Les Terres d’Afrique houses rhinos and zebras.
Worldwide Local Tip: May through September is the most favorable time to visit Lille--France weather conditions are at their best in these months. The warmest time of year is in July when temperatures are around 76.7°F (24.8°C). Although winters are not too cold in Lille--the temperature rarely drops below zero--it can rain a lot during this time of year, making it more difficult to go sightseeing. Shopaholics should visit Lille in September when the annual grand fair is happening.
Where to Shop and Eat in Lille
Go where the locals go on Sundays, and visit the lovely Quartier de Wazemmes market. Expect to find plenty of flowers, as well as local produce and seafood. A wide range of antiques can be found here, as well.
When it comes to food, you can try everything from local cuisine to Middle Eastern and African dishes here in Lille. One of the signature dishes of the region, Flemish is made from the softest beef stewed soaked in beer for many hours. Make sure to try stewed rabbit when visiting Lille, or order a portion of fried mussels.
Worldwide Local Tip: Travelers with a sweet tooth should try the mouthwatering Meert vanilla wafers. If you love cheese, make sure to get a slice of the delicious Raclette.
Have a Lovely Time in Lille, France!
Visiting Lille can be a real delight, especially if you venture outside the main areas and experience the city’s hidden gems as a worldwide local.